Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 35

Thread: Compressed air to blow off clothing, so dangerous it's banned in workplaces

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Northern Oregon

    Compressed air to blow off clothing, so dangerous it's banned in workplaces

    I have a small compressor. I mainly use it to blow dust and chips off before I leave the shop. I've heard of eye and ear injury by getting the nozzle to close. Even a death by horseplay when a nozzle was used to " goose" someone and his guts got blown out. I was amazed to learn it's so dangerous it's banned in many work places.

    This Canadian website says :

    Second, compressed air itself is also a serious hazard. On rare occasions, some of the compressed air can enter the blood stream through a break in the skin or through a body opening. An air bubble in the blood stream is known medically as an embolism, a dangerous medical condition in which a blood vessel is blocked, in this case, by an air bubble. An embolism of an artery can cause coma, paralysis or death depending upon its size, duration and location. While air embolisms are usually associated with incorrect diving procedures, they are possible with compressed air due to high pressures. While this seems improbable, the consequences of even a small quantity of air or other gas in the blood can quickly be fatal.

    So, I'll be more careful.
    Last edited by Andrew Joiner; 03-18-2011 at 12:14 AM.

  2. I never understood why people would use compressed air to clean up their workspace or even themselves with it. My shop is small and there's a fine layer of dust everywhere even though I sweep the floor regularly and clean up the top of my tools with an old draftsman brush at every possible occasion. Still, there's a lot of dust left where I can't easily reach or around my tools.

    Blowing air in such place sends so much dust airborne, there's no way I'd want to work in that place until the dust settles completely. Not only it's not good for your lungs, if you breath that stuff, even just a little, you may catch a very nasty infection too. DAMHIKT. It happened to me a couple years ago and I spent 2 days in bed with a nasty fever. I had all the symptoms of flu, and the most painful sore throat I ever had in my life, and it lasted about 4 days. So now I'm a lot more careful when I clean my shop...

    Another threat with blowing compressed air over yourself is if the air is not 100% clean and has some small debris, metal dust or any other contaminant. At the speed air travels, it would embed those debris deep into your skin. Actually, if anyone is tempted of using a sandblaster gun on themselves just for the fun of it, just remember that the next step will be the amputation of the affected area. Yup, there's no way on getting those zillions grains of sand out of your skin so the solution is amputation...

    Of course, I don't even mention the thousands of injuries happening every year to DIYers discovering for the first time the joy of using their first and spanking new 40$ nail gun!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    They DO make a SAFETY tip for air nozzles. It reduces the air pressure that is allowed to exit the nozzle. We have these at the plant I work at, they are ISSUED to each Tech, as part of the "company Tool set". They do work.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Tyler, Texas
    Just because something is banned in a workplace does not mean it's inherently unsafe. It more likely means that some bozo did something dumb and got hurt. Instead of getting rid of the bozo, they institute another "safety" policy. It rarely helps because it's impossible to manage stupid. The root cause of the incident (the bozo) is still walking around looking for another way to get hurt.

    I often use compressed air to blow the chips off of me when I've been turning. I don't aim it towards my eyes, get it close enough to blow dust or air into my skin and certainly don't insert the nozzle into a body orifice. A little common sense will go a lot farther towards keeping one safe than a knee-jerk policy will.

    Logmaster LM-1 sawmill, 30 hp Kioti tractor w/ FEL, Stihl 290 chainsaw, 300 bf cap. Solar Kiln

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Northern Colorado
    I dial the pressure down, via the regulator on my compressor, and DO use it to clean both ME AND shop.

    I think I drop it to about 50psi. I won't blow it toward/near my face, but WILL blow off the bandana that I traditionally wear while in the shop.

    SOME risk ... okay ... makes sense.

    But ... I'm a wild man. What can I say ?

    Thanks for sharing. I don't *freak out* at learning new hazards. I learn from them, incorporate them, make decisions about them, and put them in the context of the life I choose to lead, and the risks I'm willing to take.

    Now ... if you'll excuse me ... I have to unbuckle my seat belt, and get off the couch

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Collin County Texas
    Three cheers for Cody.

    I use my air hose in the garage to blow off my clothing after mowing a couple acres of lawn. I also wear a dust mask and 30 db down ear protectors. If I didn't blow the crud off, I would not be allowed to enter the house and hit the shower.

    LIke wise, I use the air hose to blow the shavings off my person when I am finished turning.

    I carry 100 psi on all my air tools, and having regard for them is all the protection a person needs.

    A passing thought for you horse people. She was only a stableman's daughter, but all the horsemen knew er.
    Last edited by Bruce Page; 03-17-2011 at 6:57 PM. Reason: Removed political comment
    Best Regards, Ken

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
    Remember folks, we don't do politics at the Creek.
    Please help support the Creek.

    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something. - Steven Wright

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Is this a St Patrick's day fools joke? Compressed air is a major hazard and should be banned? Maybe Canadian air is colder and thus more compact and dangerous than that in the states? Every guy in the shop where I work has a chisel, some are even sharp, none are banned, care to venture a guess as to which tool causes more injuries, an air nozzle or a chisel? Or a hammer, every guy has a hammer, that will do a number on your skin too. DAMHIK. Or a coping saw. Anyone here NOT lost some skin to one of those at some point. Frankly with all the slivers and sharp edges the wood itself presents a great danger and will probably soon be banned by OSHA from any direct hand contact. Wood working is inherently dangerous, sharp tools and dull minds don't mix, stupid hurts and will find a way. There are certainly precautions to to take when working with compressed air, like not putting it directly in your eye, or holding the air to your skin until you bleed, or putting it anywhere on your self or a coworker that involves a lack of trousers. But really, in light of the work being done, its hardly way up the list of grave dangers in the average shop. At work I sand in front of a giant exhaust fan that acts as a sort of down draft dust remover, and I regularly blow work off to clear dust, no injuries to report to date. At home I work in a basement, so I opt to spend a bit more time collecting the dust with a vac and use the air hose with caution. Dust never seems to leave the basement environment once air born. But still, after a good router session I'll put the air filtration on high and blow off my person, usually with the ear phones still on, because that whistling air is loud. Maybe they will develop an "Air Stop" that senses flesh and shuts off the air nozzle should it come in contact with skin? They could call it the the "Blow Hard 2000".....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Northern Michigan
    I have found it is far less dangerous to blow myself off than it is to walk in my wifes house covered in wood chips.

    Please don't outlaw my wife, I like her.........

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    SE South Dakota
    Why, without compressed air, my shop would be even dirtier! Twice a year it gets a thorough hose down-complete with fans exhausting through the winders and door. Oh yeah, I use it on me too-but more than twice a year. Haven't been hurt yet but tomorrows another day. I did once manage to "inject" myself with a pressure washer ONCE, you can bet that'll never happen again.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Joiner View Post
    I've heard of ... a death by horseplay when a nozzle was used to " goose" someone and his guts got blown out.

    I work in emergency medicine and that's a new one on me. I'm gonna have to see some documentation!
    Last edited by Frank Drew; 03-17-2011 at 11:03 PM.

  12. #12
    I guess this rules out the Leaf Blower too?

    Sure sign of Spring when I open the garage doors and blow everything that's not tied down out. The accumulated winter dust is amazing!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Volden View Post
    Why, without compressed air, my shop would be even dirtier! Twice a year it gets a thorough hose down-complete with fans exhausting through the winders and door. Oh yeah, I use it on me too-but more than twice a year. Haven't been hurt yet but tomorrows another day. I did once manage to "inject" myself with a pressure washer ONCE, you can bet that'll never happen again.

    I used to do this too. But since I bought an electric leaf blower, I found it is much more efficient. It moves large volumes of air quickly with less of the turbulence that was created by the compressed air. With the exhaust fan is on, the air moves much more directionally with the leaf blower.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2008
    You wouldn't believe how thick the BOZONE layer is where I work. I've seen accident reports that range from an eye injury from putting on safety glasses to putting reflective tape on door edges because someone walked into it. Sometimes I think if they managed all the bozos out, the plant would be empty.

    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  15. #15
    Many machine shops don't allow blowing off the machines. The shop where I worked at Ohio State in the mid 60's didn't allow it, but everybody waited 'til the shop was empty and did it anyway. There are several issues. It's very easy to project a metal particle into a fellow worker. Most of them are curlicues with razor barbs on them. They cause pretty nasty cuts. Taking one to bed as a passenger in your hair is very annoying to the wife, I can testify to that one. If you blow off your lathe and even one of those curlies goes near my shoes, I'm probably going to have a razor sharp cylinder embedded in my sole. Not to mention brass or aluminum shards piercing an eyeball where they can't be removed with a magnet.
    In a personal workshop it's a different matter, but still some of the same dangers.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts